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Lotte, airport appear in court

by Krystal Paco

Guam - Lotte Duty Free Guam may have been the winning bidder of the multimillion dollar concessionaire contract at the island's airport, but as they appeared with the Guam International Airport this morning, they're asking Supreme Court justices to correct language in a decision filed by the Superior Court last year.

Lotte and the A.B. Won Pat International Airport are hoping to clear the record. Lotte attorney Cesar Cabot said, "The main gist of the decision of the court we believe was correct. They were correct in ruling that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. We're only asking that the extraneous improper statements that were made by the court be stricken from the record." He added, "It was clear error and an abuse of discretion by the Superior Court."

In a joint appeal filed by Lotte and GIAA, the two request the high court make the correction because as it stands today, the court's error could favor duty free guam in subsequent administrative and court actions.

Attorney Maurice Suh on behalf of DFS said, "A winning party cannot appeal.  There's been a lot of talk from the appellants about the harm of the dicta, the issues surrounding the dicta but frankly the rule is clear: you don't have a right to appeal. I think more important for the Guam Supreme Court is what rule would be established if we permit the jurisdiction over the appeal of these particular issues. This court will hear appeals in motions to dismiss of language in the orders where parties will say, 'I don't like that piece I don't like that piece you should add this piece.'"

After 30 years of operations at the airport, DFS not only lost the bid for the multimillion dollar concessionaire contract to  Lotte Duty Free Guam, but they were also denied their request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the contract from moving forward.

DFS' lawsuit was also dismissed because the court found they failed to exhaust their administrative remedies.

Supreme Court Justice F. Phillip Carbullido said, "The issue before the court is not whether or not the Superior Court has or does not have jurisdiction. the issue is quite narrow in this case as I understand it and just whether or not the trial court committed error in making certain observations however you describe it when it decided it did not have jurisdiction. That's what this case is about, isn't it?"

Attorney Kathleen Fisher represents GIAA. She said, "Whether you call them observations or findings or color commentary doesn't matter. It made statements to the two pending protests in front of the GIAA that were in excess of its subject matter jurisdiction. We think that this court should exercise its supervisory powers to correct that order."

The court has taken the matter under advisement. Meanwhile, Lotte Duty Free has been in operation at the airport for the last eight months.

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